Fans of Marvel films have come to expect a wealth of easter eggs, hidden references and comic book secrets packed into just about every story – and while Thor: The Dark World may have laid the foundation for the future of the movie universe more clearly than any before it, that doesn’t mean there weren’t subtle inclusions as well.
They may be fewer than fans had seen in prior Phase Two film Iron Man 3, but those who loved the comic book source material of Thor – and have high hopes for Marvel’s future – will want to take note.
Needless to say, there will be plenty of spoilers in our list of Thor: The Dark World Easter Eggs & Trivia, so read at your own risk.
The showdown between Thor and the unnamed rock monster that finally brings the Marauders to surrender was teased in one of the film’s first trailers, and was immediately one of the funnier end scenes to a Marvel trailer we can recall. But the enemy wasn’t just some random brute.
That would be one of the ‘Stone Men from Saturn,’ the strange rock monsters that Thor fought in his very first appearance in print, “Journey into Mystery” #83.
In the comic book fiction, the Stone Men – or Kronan – had come to Earth (not Vanaheim) from another realm, but holed up on Saturn in preparation of an attack.
One element of The Dark World that director Alan Taylor was keen on emphasizing was its connection to Viking heritage, meaning viewers got the chance to actually see Odin (Anthony Hopkins) overseeing his training armies, not confined to a throne room.
It is in Odin’s first appearance that we see him taking an aside with one of his ravens, but fans will quickly tell you that they are not merely birds. Known as Huginn and Muninn, the pair of ravens flew throughout the Nine Realms to gather information for their king and reported back.
They were relegated to mere perches on Odin’s throne in the first Thor, and present during the fight between Thor and Loki in The Avengers, so fans were treated to an even more prominent cameo in the sequel.
As is customary for most films based on Marvel heroes (with some notable exceptions), legendary comic book creator Stan Lee is given a brief cameo. When Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) is through giving his brilliant lecture in the confines of a psychiatric facility, it is Lee dressed as a patient who requests his shoe be returned.
Unlike many before it, this cameo might actually slip by the average moviegoer, since – for a change – the joke he delivers actually lands perfectly in the scene, drawing more attention to the laugh than his inclusion.
That shift toward subtlety might be sign of the times, since Lee’s original cameo in The Avengers was meant to be a similar throwaway one-liner directed at Steve Rogers (Chris Evans).
Lee’s cameo aside, viewers who were actually trying to keep up with Dr. Selvig’s ramblings (or simply looking at the chalkboard behind him) were treated to not just one, but several easter eggs that could have serious ramifications for the future of the Marvel movie universe.
For starters, the brief phrase written over Selvig’s right shoulder: 616 Universe. For those unfamiliar with the comic book source material, Marvel Comics, like DC, has accepted that the majority of their superheroes exist in just one of several parallel universes. The name given to the one that Earthly audiences are used to seeing? Earth-616.
Although the term is disliked by several Marvel executives – since Marvel has never explored more than a handful of ‘other Earths’ – its appearance here implies that Dr. Selvig is aware of Earth’s parallel incarnations.
The names Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost are well-known to the most die-hard fans; as the creators of the teenage female clone of Wolverine – dubbed ‘X-23’ – the creative team used that success to prove instrumental in major X-Men storylines like “Messiah Complex” and later, a new take on the X-Force team (which may be coming to theaters soon).
Since then, the pair have ventured into other forms of medium – most notably Kyle acting as executive producer of The Dark World, and Yost providing the screenplay. Even so, the set-dressers haven’t overlooked the pair’s best work.
Simply look to the upper-right corner of Dr. Selvig’s chalkboard for the simple equation ‘Kyle + Yost = X’.
It may be another case of Marvel simply trying to elate their fans with comic book references, but Dr. Selvig’s chalkboard also holds two potentially massive bombshells for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Let’s begin with ‘The Fault.’
There may be some movie fans who have yet to hear of ‘The Inhumans,’ but that is certainly about to change. With Guardians of the Galaxy taking the MCU cosmic, there is a very real chance of seeing ‘The Fault’ – a tear in the universe with which Nova, Quasar, and the Guardians have tangled – before long.
As for ‘The Crossroads,’ the concept features heavily in a Dr. Strange story in which the good doctor isolates the Hulk during a particularly fierce rampage. Whether these name drops are planting seeds for the future, or simply reassuring fans that the movies are still priorities for Marvel, only true fans will understand their significance.
One of the undisputed scene-stealers of The Dark World (as fans likely predicted) was Malekith’s most trusted lieutenant, Algrim the Strong (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) – or perhaps more accurately, the monstrosity known as ‘Kurse’ that he tranforms into.
The filmmakers take serious liberties with the core source material of Kurse, making him just the last incarnation of ‘the Kursed’: a group of Dark Elves selected to absorb magical energy and become enormous beasts. But there was one shred of the character’s backstory alluded to on screen: his signature yellow and red horned helmet.
Once the transformation takes hold the helmet is transformed into a much darker hide, but for a few short scenes the connection to the comics is visible.
Many moviegoers might have simply overlooked Loki’s parting words when telling a defeated enemy that he would “see him in Hell,” since the phrase has been used in countless action films. But some might wonder if the sentiment holds the same meaning when applied to Asgardians.
As a matter of fact, it means something a little different. For starters, the Asgardian ‘Hel’ (or ‘Helheim’), located in the lowest realm of Niflheim is where Asgardians go once dead, but it isn’t saddled with the fire and brimstone of many religions.
In Marvel Comics, Hel is ruled over by Hela, Loki’s daughter. So much like the use of the term ‘Death’ in The Avengers‘ mid-credits scene, the film’s writers found a way to at least pay tribute to the comic mythology, even if it won’t make it to the big screen.
As the Nine Realms begin to converge in the film’s final act, a number of portals are all visible at once. The presence of a world bathed in fire seem to make sense – surrounded by one of lush greenery, one of ice, and one of rock – but comic fans know that what’s being glimpsed is far more important than just a balance of elements.
The fiery realm seen for just a few seconds is in fact Muspelheim, the home of Surtur and his army of Fire Demons. Standing over 1,000 feet tall, and capable of unleashing unstoppable attacks with his Sword of Doom, Surtur is as close to a walking apocalypse as you can get. With power even Thor can’t challenge, this tiny window into his world posed more of a risk than most will realize.
Several Marvel executives and crew members have implied that Surtur and Muspelheim will play a role in the future, so if that’s the case, this simple nod foreshadows Thor’s greatest enemy.
We’ll forgive casual audiences for being somewhat confused by the mid-credits scene of The Dark World, paving the way for the cosmic storyline of Guardians of the Galaxy with little context. We’ve already provided a lengthy explanation of exactly what should be taken away from the brief scenes, but Marvel fans saw the foundation for the future being laid throughout the movie’s story.
Beginning with Odin claiming that the mysterious Aether – the universe-altering substance wielded by Malekith – was a liquid, as opposed to a solid stone. The line is a clear sign that not only should the Aether be taken as one of Marvel’s ‘Infinity Gems,’ later referred to as ‘Infinity Stones,’ but that the movies are on a crash course with Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet.
It’s still hard to tell how many more changes Marvel will make for their cinematic universe, but expect to see more talk of gems, stones, and orbs coming throughout Phase Two.
The entire contents of the various racks and tanks belonging to The Collector (Benicio Del Toro) will take some serious time (and likely a home video release) to fully examine, since most objects are only seen for split seconds – with some early rumored collectibles debunked by other viewers.
What does stand out among the various objects is the rather sizable tank containing what looks to be a large object of both organic and mechanical design. It’s been suggested that the item is in fact Adam Warlock’s famous cocoon, from which the troubled man was reborn with a new purpose, and an irrevocable link to the Soul Gem – set to play a major part in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.
So far, it’s hard to confirm whether the cocoon is in fact Warlock’s, since it isn’t visible in its entirety. But given Joss Whedon’s affection for the character, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Warlock emerge in the near future.
Those are all the odd bits of trivia and easter eggs we’ve spotted, and invite every Thor fan to add their own to the discussion. Given just how much time was put into building the set and numerous characters visible only in passing, we’re positive more will be discovered soon. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out:
- Our Thor: The Dark World Review
- Our Thor: The Dark World Spoiler Discussion
- Thor: The Dark World Mid and Post-Credits Scenes Explained
- Our Thor: The Dark World episode of the Screen Rant Underground Podcast
- 25 Cool New Things You’ll See in Thor: The Dark World
Thor: The Dark World is in theaters now.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.